Electoral College bias and the 2020 presidential election.

Published on Oct 26, 2020in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America11.205
· DOI :10.1073/PNAS.2013581117
Robert S. Erikson49
Estimated H-index: 49
(Columbia University),
Karl Sigman22
Estimated H-index: 22
(Columbia University),
Linan Yao1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Columbia University)
Donald Trump’s 2016 win despite failing to carry the popular vote has raised concern that 2020 would also see a mismatch between the winner of the popular vote and the winner of the Electoral College. This paper shows how to forecast the electoral vote in 2020 taking into account the unknown popular vote and the configuration of state voting in 2016. We note that 2016 was a statistical outlier. The potential Electoral College bias was slimmer in the past and not always favoring the Republican candidate. We show that in past presidential elections, difference among states in their presidential voting is solely a function of the states’ most recent presidential voting (plus new shocks); earlier history does not matter. Based on thousands of simulations, our research suggests that the bias in 2020 probably will favor Trump again but to a lesser degree than in 2016. The range of possible outcomes is sufficiently wide, however, to even include some possibility that Joseph Biden could win in the Electoral College while barely losing the popular vote.
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